Nfld. & Labrador

Feeling unrepresented in local theatre productions, this actor decided to make his own

TODOS Productions, touring Newfoundland this week, aims to produce, develop, support and promote the work of diverse artists in the province.

Santiago Guzman and TODOS Productions want to create opportunities for artists of all walks of life

Santiago Guzman, artistic director of TODOS Productions, says his group is working to bring diversity and inclusivity to the screen and the stage. (Cherie Wheeler/CBC)

TODOS Productions, making its rounds across the island portion of the province to promote a new team, has a goal to produce, develop, support and promote the work of diverse artists in the province, including LGBTQ folks, immigrants, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, and artists of colour.

"It came from my own personal experience of not seeing, and not having enough opportunities. I realized that in the industry here in Newfoundland I was struggling," Santiago Guzman, the production team's artistic director, told CBC Newfoundland Morning.

"Also as the only person of colour going through the theatre program here, I was like, 'something is not quite right.'"

Guzman said he found it difficult to audition for local productions. In some cases, he said, the colour of his skin made production teams unsure of how to use him.

He said he understood the challenges in front of him by being gay, an immigrant, and a person of colour, but began thinking about those who are following behind him.

"I'm thinking about all of those diverse communities within Newfoundland, and the lack of opportunities for them to see themselves on stage or on screens," Guzman said.

Opportunities

TODOS Productions is the result. The first step for TODOS is to start commissioning scripts from what they deem to be under-represented groups across the province in an effort to tell stories that are less Caucasian-focused.

It's the right way to help get different groups into lead roles in productions while also helping to develop ideas and scripts from under-represented writers, Guzman said. The production company will then staff, cast and produce those stories. 

But while the idea is in place, and the focus is sharp, funding is just one more obstacle Guzman said he is struggling to overcome. 

Private funding helped him get TODOS off of the ground, but now he needs government grants to help sustain it. He is not yet a Canadian citizen, which has created some barriers to accessing funding.

However, Guzman said he remains hopeful  and he is looking for people from Corner Brook to St. John's to get involved with TODOS, whether it be by pitching a script, joining the crew or by auditioning for a role. 

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Newfoundland Morning

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